8. Waste

8A. Present situation

Present situation

*Data in the table represents municipal waste.
**Does not include composted organic waste from private estates.
***Plastic packages not included, amount N/A.
****Data on household waste is not collected separately.

Waste Operators

Päijät-Häme Waste Management Ltd (PHJ) is in charge of municipal waste management for the City of Lahti. PHJ is a company owned by 10 municipalities and handles reception, processing and utilization of municipal waste (Fig. A1). The operation area covers approximately 200 000 residents. PHJ’s operations management system is certified with relevant standards: the Environmental Management System (ISO 14001:2015), the Quality Management System (ISO 9001:2015) and the Occupational Health and Safety System (OHSAS 18001:2007).

PHJ’s assignments include consulting and developing waste management. According to the PHJ strategy, waste management is handled as broadly, efficiently and economically as possible.

Included in PHJ’s main strategy goals are:

Improving waste management expertise into a growth-oriented business.High material recycling rate.Reducing negative environmental impacts.

The Kujala Waste Centre (Fig. A1) is the main PHJ site and is its only waste treatment site. Completed in 2001, the site covers 70 hectares, and offers business premises for several private companies as well.

LABIO Ltd provides biowaste and sludge processing services to industries, waste management operators and communities (8B).

Private companies also work as waste handlers and utilizers in the Lahti region [e.g. Kuusakoski Ltd, Stena Ltd and Purkupiha Ltd (including construction waste processing and utilizing)].

Kujala industrial symbiosis

Figure A1. Several companies operate at PHJ’s waste management site in Kujala, Lahti (source: PHJ). Click to enlarge image.

Prevention of Waste Production

PHJ has many campaigns, such as the 4-year BioBertta campaign, in the Päijät-Häme region, to reduce food waste.

The City of Lahti has an environmental counselling unit (8B).

PHJ’s “LOKKI” calendar, with waste information, is distributed yearly, to all households and companies.

PHJ’s website: Kierrätyskaista, where residents can sell, trade and give away usable goods, also includes a search feature to assist waste sorting.

In 2016, the Kujala Waste Centre started accepting usable goods, in cooperation with PHJ and Lahden Työn Paikka Ltd, which offers work possibilities for long-term unemployed persons. Recycled goods may be pimped, and are offered for sale.

There are private recycling centres for usable goods in Lahti.

The Municipal Waste Management System

  • Sorting waste at the source (Fig. A2).
  • Properties with ≥ 10 apartments: seven bins (biowaste, energy waste, mixed waste, carton, paper, metal and glass) (Fig. A2).
  • Smallest residential buildings: at least two bins (energy waste and mixed waste) + recommendation to compost their own biowaste.
  • Waste transportation organized by private transportation businesses, tendered by real estate owners.
  • The producer communities (Rinki) organize producers' responsibility waste (e.g. paper, packaging) (8B).
  • PHJ’s waste stations have hazardous waste containers and transportable compartments (e.g. campaigns for collecting furniture).
  • Polluter Pays” principle. Each waste producer pays for emptying their waste bins, based on emptying frequency.

Waste sorting

Figure A2.Waste is sorted where it is produced: sorting bins at a property of 10 or more households.

Receiving and Processing Waste at Kujala Waste Centre

PHJ is in charge of handling municipal solid waste that is not part of the producers’ responsibilities. Waste management is funded from waste payments and other waste-based incomes. Waste management can be improved in a socially, economically and ecologically feasible way.

The Pilleri Waste stationis located in Kujala. Since PHJ cooperates with producer communities, Pilleri also receives electronic waste, tyres, paper and packaging waste. Waste can be sorted into at least twenty different types (incl. bins forplaster, roofing felt and sanitary porcelain).

Separately collected biowaste, garden waste and sewage sludge from households (along with biowaste and sludge from industry and companies) are composted in LABIO Ltd’s biogas and composting facility. In 2016, the amount of municipal biowaste and garden waste was approximately 73 kg/inhabitant.

PHJ is striving to achieve a 50% recycling rate by processing waste into raw materials for industry and by minimizing the amount of waste incinerated or taken to a landfill. The LATE sorting plant, is the first of its kind in Finland to tackle this issue.The plant separates fibres, plastics and metals that can be recycled or further processed (Fig. A3). The LATE sorting plant receives 250 tons of waste a day (66 000 tons per year), contains 51 individual devices and includes 14 exit points for sorted material. The optical sorters sort valuable and recyclable materials into separate fractions with high accuracy.

LATE separator

Figure A3.Ballistic separator at LATE separates the waste into 2D and 3D fractions.

The waste that cannot be recycled is sent for energy recovery (Fig. A4). The separately collected energy waste and dirty plastics sorted at LATE are shredded for fuel in the MURRE crushing plant. The fuel is mainly sold to the Kymijärvi II power plant (Lahti Energy Ltd), where it produces 50 MW of electricity and 90 MW of heat. Approximately 90% of Lahti’s residents live in buildings with district heating using this energy.

Household waste

Figure A4. Processing and utilization of separately collected municipal waste (Source: PHJ). Click to englarge image.

In 2016, the recovery rate was 97% for municipal waste, with 3% ending up in landfills (figures include all municipal waste from the area, except separately collected packaging/plastic waste or electronic devices received by stores). 42% of the total municipal waste was recovered as material. Energy waste and mixed waste were recovered as energy (Fig. A5).

Separately collected municipal waste

Figure A5. Separately collected municipal waste in Päijät-Häme in 2016 (Source:
PHJ, 2017).

8B. Past Performance

Waste Production

Despite all of our efforts to curb waste production, the generated amount of municipal waste (kg/inhab.) is still quite high (Fig. B1). The most effective measure for control of waste management has been regulations on municipal waste management (incl. sorting regulations) along with economic guidance and consulting.

The utilization level has increased considerably over the last 10 years (Fig. B1) and is now over 90%. Previously, the focus has been on utilizing waste as an energy source. Our future challenge is to raise the share of material recycling.

Utilization of Municipal Waste

Figure B1.The utilization level 2008-2016. The figures represent municipal waste received by PHJ (Source: PHJ, 2017).

Increasing the Share of Sorted Waste

Consulting events and campaigns are organized at kindergartens, schools, libraries, housing cooperatives, fairs and at the Kujala Waste Centre (Fig. B2).The environmental counselling unit of the City of Lahti advises residents at events throughout the PHJ operational area. With the help of the special eco-van, Kaisla, residents throughout the region are reached (Fig. B2). Many NGOs and smaller municipalities around Lahti often use this service .We have many campaigns to encourage residents to sort waste. For example, with the “Luukuta oikein” campaign (2015-2016), Lahti Housing Ltd succeeded in reducing the number of “mixed waste” bins and clarified the liability of waste management distribution for properties. The campaign covered about 5% of all residents of Lahti.The amount of separately collected biowaste has increased over the past ten years (Fig. B3). Approximately half of the residents are within the reach of separate biowaste collection, in the operational area (i.e. about 110 000 residents). Effective consulting and economical guidance have helped to achieve the good results. It has been possible to keep the biowaste processing price lower than that for mixed waste processing. In 2016, the biowaste processing price was 79 € per ton, while it was 111 €per ton for mixed waste (VAT 0%).

Waste sorting information

Figure B2. Waste sorting information given at the Lahti Environmental Week, Sept. 2017 (Source: PHJ).

Collected Biowaste

Figure B3. Separately Collected Biowaste and Garden Waste 2006-2016 (Source: PHJ, 2017).

Evolution of Waste Management

Over the past 25 years, 15 landfills have been closed within PHJ’s operational area.In 2012, Kymijärvi II, an innovative waste gasification plant, and combined heat and power plant was completed (investment 165 M€).In 2013, Lahti Aqua Ltd started utilizing the biogas generated in the sludge processing. The energy is utilized for heating and the rest goes to the city’s district heating network.In 2015, a new collection system based on the legislation of producer responsibility for packaging waste was started. National Rinki Ltd is owned by the companies who pack or import packed products. Rinki Ltd has 53 Eco take-back points in the Päijät-Häme Region. The amounts of packaging waste collected by Rinki are not included in the figures presented in this, Chapter 8.

Circular Economy

The composting facility started operations in 2005 (Fig. B4). The biogas production and refining plant, LABIO Ltd (owned by Lahti Aqua Ltd and Päijät-Häme Waste Management Ltd), was completed in 2014, making it Finland’s largest biowaste treatment plant. The investment totalled 17 M€.

  • The sludge is composted together with biowaste.
  • After digestion, the mass goes on for composting and turns into soil.
  • Biogas is sold to Gasum Ltd to be utilized as fuel. There is one biogas fuel station in Lahti. Lahti Aqua owns 35 biogas cars.
  • The residual is composted and the end product is used to create soil or fertilizers.
  • The resulting compost is used for agriculture and gardening. Levels of hormones or other substances (e.g. medicines) are very low.
  • The facility can also process packed biowaste from grocery stores.
  • The yearly capacity is 80 000 tons of biowaste and a biogas production of up to 50 GWh (9 million m3).


Figure B4. Biowaste from gardens waiting to go to the biogas and composting

Liquid Waste Processing in Kujala

  • Since 2007, different kinds of sludge (other than wastewater treatment sludge) have been solidified through the geotube process.
  • Geomembrane – is a method where coagulation chemicals are used to separate the liquid and the solids. The liquid part is led to sewers.
  • Sediment is delivered for suitable processing.
  • This method is very cost-effective and reliable. After PHJ, similar facilities have also been built elsewhere in Finland.

LATE Sorting Plant (started at the end of 2016)

  • Sorts recyclables (plastics, metals, and fibres) out of mixed, energy and construction waste.
  • LATE is running, but will be completed at the end of 2017.
  • The goal is to increase material recycling and to ensure that there are competitive waste management services available, since the landfill prohibition took effect at the beginning of 2016. The facility is sized for 66 000 tons of waste. Recyclable materials are sorted based on different characteristics (e.g. shape, mass, size and magnetism). Various screenings and separators (e.g. NIR technology) are used.

Other Utilization of the Kujala Waste Centre

  • Tarpaper Recycling Finland Ltd has operated in Kujala since 2015. It collects and handles roofing felt waste from the whole of Finland. The waste is processed into a bitumen mix that can be used in asphalt production. The Bitumen mix has an ”end of waste” status (Fig. B5).
  • Construction-based waste can be efficiently utilized in excavation works. Contaminated soil will be treated with screening and stabilizing. Stabilized soil can be used at the Kujala Waste Centre for landscape bank structures with an accepted environmental permit. Slightly contaminated soil and regular surplus land are used in closed landfill surface structures and landfill renovation.
  • The ordinary waste landfill will be used for final disposal of unusable waste from construction, industrial waste and processing rejects, along with waste that needs special processing, such as asbestos.

Bitumen roofing into asphalt

Figure B5. Turning bitumen roofing shingle waste into asphalt in Kujala.

8C. Future Plans

Challenges to Be Solved

One general challenge for local waste management is to achieve a more comprehensive picture of its entire waste production and utilization in the area. Currently, we have good data on municipal waste (sources, utilization and development needs). However, we only know a little about industrial waste, agricultural waste and waste from construction businesses. A more wide-ranging picture that encompasses all waste production and utilization in the area is needed to minimize the current level of material loss (Fig. C1).

The solution to this problem is available. A circular economy roadmap of the Päijät-Häme Region was recently finalized and it includes a wide variety of different actions covering a vast amount of different waste segments and businesses. The work was conducted by the Lahti University of Applied Sciences and began with a thorough analysis of material flows in the region.

The roadmap includes five general themes, each with a strategic goal for 2030. One of the themes includes material circulation. To implement these goals, each theme has from three to seven regional actions, for a combined total of 26.

Material circulation

Figure C1.Example of material circulation in Lahti Region.

Another challenge is to improve municipal waste management at the location where the real estate owners arrange their waste transportation. Each property chooses a transportation company to empty their waste bins. Thus, garbage trucks from various transportation companies drive around the same area, which increases emissions, compared to a centrally coordinated system. Also, economic counselling is difficult, due to market-based business pricing. The transportation system challenges the reshaping of waste sorting. The transportation system has been decided on by the regional waste management authority, Päijät-Häme Waste Committee. The transportation system decision will again be addressed at the beginning of 2018.


Municipal waste management goals are included in PHJ’s strategy for 2020.

  • The primary goal is to increase the added value so that waste can be turned into saleable products/materials. A huge step was taken in 2012, when we started making fuel from separately collected energy waste. Other saleable materials include metals, carton and landfill gas (Fig. C2). These covered 7% of net sales in 2015. The mechanical sorting plant, LATE, is the next major step towards the goal of increasing added value. The goal is to achieve a 50% recycling rate, of municipal waste, by 2020 (38% in 2015) (Fig. C3).
  • One goal is to increase the amount of separately collected biowaste. Currently, we are studying how biowaste could also be collected from small properties in a cost-effective way. Waste collection from small properties is limited because of the small, weekly, waste output. Biowaste bins should be emptied often, to prevent hygienic harm. Cost-effectiveness is also limited in the sparsely populated countryside. Still, biowaste has great potential. Based on surveys, mixed waste includes approximately 20% biowaste.
  • In October 2016, a joint development project by the City of Lahti and PHJ was initiated. In it, we are looking for sustainable solutions for utilization of leftover land. The main goal is to increase its reuse and find new uses, in addition to utilization in landfill structures.
  • The Kujala Waste Centre is also working on improving sustainable development through energy solutions. PHJ has an ongoing project, where the energy efficiency of the Kujala Waste Centre is to be improved. The goal is to design and acquire new energy efficient power production solutions that use renewable energy for both the Kujala Waste Centre area and nearby areas. Currently, the project is in the first phase (solar panels for roofs in Kujala). In the next phase, the closed landfill surface will be designed to function as a solar park.

Aluminium waste

Figure C2. Sorted aluminium waste is utilized in the metal industry.

Recovered waste

Figure C3.Nearly 100% of all municipal waste is recovered. The figure includes all municipal waste in the area, not only the waste collected by PHJ (Source: PHJ, 2017).

The City of Lahti and the Finnish Sustainable Communities (FISU)

The City of Lahti joined the Finnish Sustainable Communities (FISU) network in 2016. Lahti applied to the network, signed the agreement and committed to working towards becoming carbon neutral and waste-free, and to curbing overconsumption by 2050. This goal has been already incorporated into the Lahti City Strategy.

The roadmap on how to achieve these aims is currently being developed. This roadmap will be the key strategic guide, in coming years. The Finnish Sustainable Communities form a support network for each other. A service centre, consisting of experts from the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) and Motiva (an energy efficiency company), supports and coordinates the work.



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